I’m afraid to go back to the library.
I love the library. Any place that is hushed and full of books is by definition magical. I’m jealous of the people who get to work there. No one yells at anyone in a library. Libraries have that awesome paper and binding-glue smell. Librarians get first dibs on new books. (This might not be true, but in my universe, they will have read all the new books so you can ask them if they are any good before you bother checking them out.)
I don’t often check out books from the library because I have a book buying problem. As an author, I know how important each individual sale can be. As a reader, I find nothing more comfortable than to be surrounded by stories. Next to my bed is a mound of books waiting to tell me a tale. If I live to 147 I won’t have time to read them all, because for each one I read two more fill its place.
Mostly I go to the library to get books on tape, which aren’t on tape anymore, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call them. Audiobooks, maybe? Anyhoo, since I’m clearly not going to live long enough to read every book on the planet, audiobooks let me squeeze a few more in while I’m driving. They also make the time-wasting frustration of taking forever to get from point a to point b more productive and enjoyable.
Sometimes, though, I can’t help myself. The call of all those shelves of books is too loud to ignore. I look at the spines, waiting for something to catch my eye. I look up my favorite authors to see if maybe I missed something. I look at the new books to see what just came out.
A few weeks ago, probably over two months by now, I checked out InterWorld (InterWorld Trilogy) by Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, and Michael Reaves, a guy I’d never heard of. I read it. I liked it. I gave it to my son to read, and when he finished, I gave it to my husband to read. In the meantime, I went back to the library, renewed InterWorld (InterWorld Trilogy) and checked out The Silver Dream (InterWorld Trilogy), which was the second in the series. I finished that, and added it to the pile of books on my husband’s night table, since he was reading the latest from Christopher Moore, The Serpent of Venice: A Novel
, which I had also checked out from the library and read and passed on. (I almost squealed when I saw it on the new books shelf – that’s the kind of booknerd I am proud to be.)
I renewed. And renewed. And returned and checked out new audiobooks. Then I was out of renewals. So I told my husband, “too bad so sad, if you want to read it you have to return it and check it out with your card.” Only he couldn’t find it. Somehow it managed to slither of his nightstand and disappear to parts unknown. This was a good week and a half ago. It still hasn’t turned up.
So now I’m afraid to go to the library. I have one audiobook in my car that is overdue, and I need to return it, but I can’t help but thinking I’m almost done and then I can return it in the middle of the night in the dropbox like the criminal I am. I wish I could listen faster so I could just get it done.
I can’t bear the disappointed looks I know I will get from the librarians who know me by name even before I present my library card. I can’t gird my loins to go in and admit that I was so irresponsible with a book they let me have just on faith that I not only haven’t returned it, but can’t. I imagine that if I ever try to check out another book some screen with large red letters will pop up on the computer saying something like “CAUTION: BOOK LOSER. USE CARE BEFORE LENDING BOOKS. YOU MIGHT NOT GET THEM BACK.”
I know I’m projecting. I’m not the first person to have lost a book, nor will I be the last. I will eventually pay my fine, pay for the missing book, and my library card will not be revoked. Still. I wish there were some kind of “first offender” status I could apply for so that it will be wiped off my record. And mostly I’m sad that no one else will be able to read the book I lost.
But really, I’m not the one who lost it. I gave it to my husband’s care and HE lost it. Maybe I’ll make him go with me and fess up. That’s it. I’ll pass the buck. But I will no longer pass the book.
Epilogue: After I wrote this, I renewed (ha ha!) my fury at my husband for losing the book. After crawling around on his hands and knees next to the bed and eventually using one of those long sticks with a grabber thing at the end, he managed to retrieve InterWorld (InterWorld Trilogy) from behind the bed. I made him go to the library and return it.
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was a number one Amazon Hot New Release in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.